Twitter apparently suspended its open source competitor Mastodon from the service on Thursday afternoon. Just prior to its suspension, Mastodon (@joinmastodon) tweeted a link to the jet tracking account on its own service, according to archives, TechCrunch reported.
TechCrunch also reported that many links to Mastodon no longer work on Twitter, which flags them as “potentially harmful.” Tweeted links to some servers without Mastodon’s name in the domain still appears to work in TechCrunch’s testing. Banned domains include mstdn.social and mastodon.social, while links to journa.host and others still work. Later, Twitter blocked more links to Mastodon servers that don’t reference the service in the domain name, including journa.host and SciCom.xyz.
According to TechCrunch, Elon Musk’s personal and political preferences have guided a number of Twitter policy decisions since the company’s hands-on new owner took over. While Musk declared that Twitter would allow any content that isn’t illegal, he’s since disallowed specific accounts for personal reasons.
On Mastodon, a federated, open source Twitter alternative, a single individual can’t set the rules for the whole platform, TechCrunch reported. Mastodon’s servers – separate but open instances of the social network – are run by individuals who can set rules, but users can also decamp to a different server if they don’t agree with those choices.
RollingStone reported that Twitter appears to be blocking tweets linking to many major Mastodon servers; tweets to many Mastodon links result in an error message stating, “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified as being potentially harmful.” The link ban followed a chaotic Thursday night where many prominent journalists were abruptly suspended from Twitter.
According to Rolling Stone, as celebrities and everyday users wave Twitter goodbye amid the drastic changes, Musk (whose reported affinity for booting accounts who annoy him is a regular theme) has suspended competitor Mastodon’s Twitter account. Other social media platforms, like Facebook and TikTok are up for now.
The Hill reported that Twitter has suspended the account of another social media platform that has gained attention in recent weeks in light of controversy Twitter has faced since Elon Musk took over the company.
The Twitter account for Mastodon was suspended as of Thursday night for violating Twitter’s rules. Mastodon became more popular as a possible alternative to Twitter in the aftermath of Musk’s acquisition of the latter at the end of October, with the two platforms having some similarities but also key differences that appeal to some users looking to leave Twitter.
The Hill also noted that Mastodon is not owned by a single company or person as a decentralized social media platform. It is instead made up of a network of servers that run independently but can connect to allow people to communicate.
I am on Mastodon, and have seen an influx of people who came from Twitter. Some keep their Twitter account, while others delete theirs in favor of Mastodon. It is unclear to me whether Elon Musk is aware that Mastodon is open source, and there are many servers and instances to choose from.
I suppose that Elon Musk is allowed to make decisions about what can, and cannot, be posted on Twitter. That said, blocking links to Mastodon is only going to make people more curious about what Mastodon is like. It feels like Elon Musk has unintentionally initiated the “Streisand effect”.